No single food or beverage will bring about a significant amount of weight loss on its own. However, sometimes a certain food or beverage, like lemon water, may be useful for slightly increasing weight loss results when consumed as part of a healthy weight-loss program, which includes a reduced-calorie diet and regular exercise.
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Drinking Water to Lose Weight
Drinking water, with or without lemon, may be helpful for people who want to lose weight, as long as you drink it at the right time. A study published in Obesity in 2011 found that people who drank about 2 cups of water before each meal lost more weight than people who followed a similar diet without drinking water before meals. The water helps fill up the stomach so you eat less during your meal, making it easier to reduce your daily caloric intake and lose weight.
Lemon and Weight Loss
Plant chemicals in lemons, called polyphenols, may help to limit increases in body fat, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition in 2008. This was an animal study, however, so further research is necessary to determine if the same benefit occurs in people and how much lemon would be necessary to achieve this effect.
The small amount of potassium in lemons -- 49 milligrams in the juice of one lemon, which is only about 1 percent of what you need in a day -- helps with metabolism and digestion. The juice of one lemon contains almost a quarter of your daily vitamin C needs, which might be helpful for weight loss. According to a 2006 study published in Nutrition and Metabolism, people with lower vitamin C in their tissues don't burn fat as efficiently during exercise. This study was done on only a small number of people, so more research is needed, but boosting your vitamin C intake with lemon water is good for overall health, too.
Use Lemon Water to Replace Other Beverages
For the most beneficial effects on weight from drinking lemon water, consume this beverage in place of other, higher-calorie beverages. This will help you minimize your overall caloric intake for the day even further. A 12-ounce regular cola has about 136 calories, and the same amount of 100-percent apple juice or fruit punch has about 192 calories while lemon water has almost no calories, so this switch could result in considerable calorie savings throughout the course of the day. Replacing a daily cola with a glass of 11-calorie lemon water would save 3500 calories a month, which could result in a 1-pound weight loss, just from a simple switch in beverages.
For each pound of weight loss per week, you'll need to eat 500 fewer calories per day, as each pound consists of about 3,500 calories. Be careful not to cut too many calories when trying to lose weight, however. If a woman goes below 1,200 calories per day or a man goes below 1,800 calories per day, it could slow down metabolism, making weight loss more difficult.
Other Helpful Dietary Changes
Besides drinking lemon water, other dietary changes can make to help you eat less while still feeling full. These include eating more of foods that are low in energy density -- calories per gram of food -- such as non-starchy vegetables, fruits, salads, broth-based soups and whole grains, while eating fewer foods that are higher in energy density, including foods high in fat or sugar, such as many fried foods, processed foods and sweet treats. The low-energy-density foods take up more space in your stomach, allowing you to feel full on fewer calories.
Improve Weight Loss Results With Exercise
Increasing exercise is also important for weight loss. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults do strength training exercises at least twice a week and get at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity, such as walking briskly, each week. Getting more exercise than this will help increase your daily calorie deficit, and thus your weight loss. This combination of strength training exercises and aerobic exercise will also make it more likely that you'll be burning mainly fat instead of a combination of about 75 percent fat and 25 percent muscle, which is what happens in the absence of exercise.